Garden Fences

Lead Image for Garden Fences
  • 8-50 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-5,000

Garden fences are a ubiquitous part of the suburban and rural landscape. From miles of cattle fencing to a small blocked off area of the yard, garden fences provide security, wildlife prevention, and ambiance.

If you’re ready to tackle a garden fence in your yard, map out the space, consider the material options, and come up with a blueprint. Then check the budget and get underway.

Purposes of Garden Fences

The first consideration when planning garden fencing is what the purpose of the fence is. There are many reasons to build a garden fence and the purpose behind it will guide the entire project.

For example, the primary reason homeowners build a garden fence is to keep wildlife from feasting on their hard-earned gardening efforts. It’s exciting to see that lettuce head form, but less motivating when rabbits chow it down. Same goes for tasty berries, carrots, cabbage, or other goodies.

Garden fences can keep out rabbits and the ever-problematic deer, but also reduce access for other agile critters like squirrels, mice, and moles.

For some gardeners, the offender is of a more pet-related nature, such as your big dogs that play in the yard or neighborhood cats who target your garden as a litter box.

A second purpose for a garden fence is to offer privacy. Your garden may have nothing to do with food. It could be a flower garden with a sitting area that butts up to the neighboring yard. If so, a fence made of bamboo, climbing vines, or wood offers a shield between the spaces.

Even a small picket fence with plantings of thick foliage will create a comfortable and semi-private relaxation area.

Yet another reason to build a garden fence is simply to designate the space. Maybe you want your garden to measure 14 feet square. That way you’ll have the measurements to order materials such as soil and plants. Or perhaps you have a limited portion of the yard separated out for the purpose of growing a garden.

An appealing fence also adds visual interest to your yard, creating a distinct separation between the lawn or play area and the garden area.

Finally, you may want a garden fence to act as a support upon which your garden plants can grow. With a fence in place, you can plan your plantings accordingly.

Size of Garden Fences

The size of your garden fence is also a significant factor when considering the amount of supplies you’ll need and how much the project will cost.

In the next section we’ll cover different types of materials, but in the beginning, you’ll need to calculate the size of your fence.

This will be measured in linear feet, or length. You’ll also want to choose a height for your fence. If possible, choose a height that matches the length of the materials you choose.

For example, if you’re using posts that are six feet high, you’ll bury at least two feet (one-third the height), so you will have a four-foot fence. Tabbed vertical boards can sit higher than your cross beams, so the total height might increase by one foot.

Similarly, you can calculate the height of your fence as one-half of your material length.

So with the post example, a ten-foot beam would create a three-foot fence (10 divided by two leaves you with two, five-foot posts. Each buried two feet leaves you with a three-foot fence. If you only bury them 1.5 feet, it will be a 3.5 foot fence instead.)

Materials that come in standard sizes, such as metal garden fence posts, are more difficult to cut and are best bought in the size you’ll need.

fence in garden

Material Options for Garden Fences

When we think of a garden fence we might picture an old farmhouse with a cross-crossed wooden beam fence, or a cottage with a white picket fence.

The truth is, there’s no end to the different types of fencing materials. Wood post fencing connected with chicken wire or other types of wire is a common option, especially for those approaching the project DIY style.

This type of fence is installed by setting the posts in concrete, nailing on cross beams, and then stapling the wire fencing (that comes on rolls) to the inside.

Picket fences, even if they aren’t white, are another great option, and are built in much the same way.

Steel or aluminum fences offer protection without completely blocking the view. They are durable and relatively easy to install. Plus, they can provide added security with a gate and a lock.

This is a good design move if you have something valuable in the garden or if you want to keep children away from dangers, such as pools or ponds.

A safety fence is another type of fencing commonly seen around construction sites, parking lots, and warehouses. Homeowners use it as temporary fencing or rely on it during winter to control snow drifts.

Another durable option is PVC fencing. This type of fence is available in different colors and connects together like a puzzle. It can be built to different lengths and heights.

Each of these fence types can be built from scratch, starting with the basic supplies, like a roll of wire fencing and some timber boards.

An easier, yet more expensive option, is to buy the materials partially pre-built, such as with garden fence panels. They are available in nearly every type of material, from wood/wire to PVC and beyond.

With panels, you can have a garden fence erected quickly.


The climate where you live will affect the type of fencing you choose. In areas that are continuously wet, wood might not be the first choice.

Metal or PVC might be better options in these types of regions.

Similarly, for snowy regions where you simply need a temporary fence, a safety fence is the best choice.

Different materials respond differently to different types of climates, so keep it in mind when making your selections.

How to Find Materials for Garden Fences

The first place to start is your local home improvement center. Walk through the garden center and evaluate the options for DIY garden fencing.

Check out the wood planks, posts, metal fences, wire fencing, and PVC options. Take pictures of the prices and the materials. Ask if the store offers quantity pricing (such as by the pallet) if applicable.

Next, head to the lumberyard, if lumber is your material of choice. You might find a better deal on 4x4 posts or 2x4s. The lumber yard will probably have better quality lumber and will also have all the additional hardware and supplies you’ll need. Lumber yards are often equipped to deliver your order too.

Finally, comparison shop online. With your list of materials nailed down and your pricing readily available from local stores, find out where the best deal is.

Remember there is a quality difference in every type of product, from nails to PVC panels, so make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

wood garden fence

Create Your Budget

With a blueprint mapped out and your research on different types of fencing materials at the ready, it’s time to put together a budget for your new garden fence.

Choose two or three fencing material options and run the numbers based on the size of your garden. If you have flexibility, you can adjust the size of your garden a few feet here or there.

Use a price range for the different materials to create a reliable estimate of total costs. Be sure to include every item you will need.

Typically, a garden fence will require vertical posts, horizontal supports, and vertical planks or rolls of wire. Adjust your supply list for the type of fence you plan to build.

Also remember to include all the hardware such as nails, screws, staples, gate hinges, latches, and locks. You may need 2x4 hangers on a wood fence as well. Add in one to two bags of Portland cement for each post and toppers for your posts, if applicable.

DIY or Hire Out?

Obviously hiring someone to install your fencing is significantly more expensive than doing the work yourself. However, if DIY isn’t an option, it’s time to get bids for the work.

Get a minimum of three bids for your garden fencing. Be sure to ask about a warranty.

Contractors can get the job done quickly and professionally, so if those are priorities over price, it may be the right path for you.

Helpful Garden Fence Installation Tips

Identify underground utilities. Before grabbing a shovel, post-hole digger, and hoe, put in a call for a utility location. This request will initiate a response from each of your utility departments, such as the gas and power company, water company, and cable company.

Each company will send a locator out to mark the location of underground lines. Each utility will use a different color of paint so you can distinguish one from another.

Having your underground gas, water, electrical, and cable lines marked will allow you to plan around those obstacles and avoid potential injury when you start digging.

Always anchor your garden posts. If you want your garden fence to remain erect for many years to come, ensure each post is securely anchored. Most often this means placing the post in a buried post holder or surrounding the base of the post with cement.

Bury at least one-third of your post to ensure proper support. With the weight each post carries, they will lean or topple over if not properly submerged underground.

Begin your fencing project by marking out the corners of your garden. If you’re working from an existing fence line, run a straight line using a chalk line, paint, or a cord from the fence to a stake in the ground. Use that line to place all posts in between the corner posts.

Map out your garden fence with a post every six feet at a minimum. You can put them closer together if it works with your design, but don’t spread them out further or you may incur support issues.

Use heavy-duty posts at each corner. For a wood fence, you may want a uniform design with 4x4s every six feet. But if you want smaller posts between corners, still install heavy-duty options at each corner where they will be supporting more weight and will be pulled in multiple directions.

Watch the bottom of your fence. While a closed wire, mesh, or wood fence can deter deer and other larger animals, also be sure to protect against animals that dig beneath it.

It won’t do any good to build a fence that allows moles, voles, mice, and other burrowing animals access. When installing metal or wire fencing, partially bury it as you work. Also install wood planks all the way to the ground to avoid leaving a gap where pests can enter.

The garden gate requires a bit more planning. Regardless of your spacing, the opening for the garden gate requires a heavy-duty post on each side.

Garden Fence Maintenance

Since the garden is directly exposed to the elements of nature, it will show wear over time. Plastic will suffer fading caused by UV damage. Wood may dry out and crack, or rot out in spots. Metal can rust.

Care for your garden fence by checking it at least once each season. Look for signs of wear such as posts that have moved out of alignment, sagging areas, or a gate that no longer hangs plumb and square.

Stain wood fencing every other year to seal in a protective coating. Also install post caps, which will divert water off the tops of posts.

If metal fencing begins to rust, sand it and apply a protective finish.

Replace rotting boards as you notice them.


Garden fences are a ubiquitous part of the American landscape. With a bit of planning and proper installation techniques, your garden fence can protect your plants, provide privacy, and add visual appeal to your space.

Find more details on the topic in our related article, How to Build a Vegetable Garden Fence, and ignite your imagination with 6 Inexpensive Ideas for Garden Fencing.